ET3 and LP66S

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ET3 and LP66S

Post by eagle6014 » Sun Aug 26, 2012 12:30 am

Howdy y'all from Chicagoland! I just learned of this web site today from a link in Audiogons virtual systems gallery. This is the first c-j tubes I've ever owned. I bought the LP66S about two yrs ago & bought the ET3 a yr later. Note that the pre is not the SE version. Along with my c-j gear, I have the following: Marantz SA8004 SACD, Yamaha BD-S1900 Blu-ray, Legacy Studio HD, Legacy Cinema HD, Marantz MA-700 mono-bloc, CIAudio VHP2 & VAC1, Billy Bags model 4603, Kimber Silver Streak interconnect, Kimber PBJ's, Nordost Red Dawn LS interconnect between the pre & amp, and finally Nordost Red Dawn LS speaker cables. Even though my system is in a small room, it sounds awesome. I welcome comments and recommendations. I need all the help I can get. Pat :geek:
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Re: ET3 and LP66S

Post by joeinid » Sun Aug 26, 2012 1:40 am

Very nice system Pat!

Welcome to the forum!
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Re: ET3 and LP66S

Post by admin » Sun Aug 26, 2012 5:45 pm

eagle6014,
Welcome to the site! You have a great looking system there. Some very nice audio as well as video components. I think you can guess which two are my favorite! :)

I have heard really good reviews of the ET3 (both your version and the SE). I think CJ does offer an upgrade package for the ET3 so if in the future you wanted to go that way you could. I don't know how much improvement you can expect from the upgrade however.

I am really into home theater as well (not just 2 channel listening). I see that you have an entire audio/video system there, do you do a lot of film watching, or mostly music?

I am also into interconnects (I actually make my own). What is your opinion on the Kimber cables you use, and how does it pair with your CJ equipment? Do you find them "bright"?
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Re: ET3 and LP66S

Post by eagle6014 » Sun Aug 26, 2012 8:11 pm

I do mostly music in 2 ch. I have a unique set up for home theater b/c I can only do 3.0. I have the Yamaha Blu-ray players ctr ch output directly to the Marantz mono-bloc. It has it's own input level on the back. Then I pipe the output for 2 ch to the ET3. It actually works well. I use the Kimber PBJ's on the outputs of the Yamaha player b/c it's the least used device. I didn't want to dump a lot of cash on it. The Silver Streaks are from the Marantz SA8004 player and they don't sound bright at all. But the biggest thing that made all the difference in the world was adding Nordost Red Dawns between the pre and amp. That really helped mellow out the brightness I was hearing. Then I took it further and put in the Nordost Red Dawn LS speaker wires, and BAM! The sound stage doubled in virtual size and the depth made it worth the grand I paid for them. The Legacy speakers are bright sounding by design. But they are a perfect match for that amp (4 ohm). Because the LP66S is really about the mids it has a way of tuning down the speakers brightness. Yeah I heard about the ET3 upgrade, but I would rather save my money until I can afford an ET5. Don't misunderstand me, the ET3 is great just the same. It's a simple get out of the way pre and does everything it's not supposed to. My next tweeks are power cables and really good power conditioner. What I use is nothing special except for the one cable a Signal Cable Magic Power Digital Reference. It's really high quality and does help the Marantz SA8004 achieve better resolution. Pat

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Re: ET3 and LP66S

Post by eagle6014 » Fri Oct 19, 2012 7:18 pm

Just updating, I have ordered new Electro-Harmonix 6550EH quad set to retube the LP66S. Hopefully they will arrive soon & my amp will be up again. It still works fine, but I know that one tube is bad and another I've had to rebias a few times. Given it's age and use it's time. Pat

Edit 10/28/12: I've had a really bad experience with Tube Depot down in Memphis, TN. It seems that they have no record of my financial transaction. :x Even though I have proof my cheque cleared through my bank and theirs. I fear that war will break out between us if I don't get this resolved. :evil: This has delayed my tube replacement by over 2 weeks. Until I can resolve this, I have since ordered another quad set through Music Direct. A quad set + taxes (we're both in IL) and free shipping came to $119. They will be here on Tuesday the 30th. Honestly I didn't know Music Direct sold EH tubes or I would have ordered from them in the first place. Oh well, we learn and we move on. Pat

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Re: ET3 and LP66S

Post by eagle6014 » Tue Oct 30, 2012 5:55 pm

Well my LP66S is back to life thx to new 6550EH tubes. Right now it sounds a bit lean, but they're new and will improve with time. Thus far the initial bias is holding and I have not tweaked them yet. :D I hope my pic highlights them well. If your curious to know they fit under the cage just fine. Pat
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Re: ET3 and LP66S

Post by admin » Fri Nov 02, 2012 3:07 pm

It looks beautiful! Do you run it with the cage on or off? How brightly do the tubes glow? I usually listen to music in a very dark environment. I find it helps me concentrate on the music and not get distracted by visual input. As a nice bonus, it also accentuates that warm glow of tubes.
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Re: ET3 and LP66S

Post by eagle6014 » Fri Nov 02, 2012 5:10 pm

I leave the cage on. I have too b/c sometimes my 10 month old puppy will be around (she vary rarely ventures into the listening room) so it's for safety. When it's off, these new tubes are a little brighter than the stock Flying C tubes were. I also listen to music in a dark room, but I do like a little ambient lighting. I was thinking about getting some red or orange LED's and pointing them at the walls since they are a neutral color. Should be interesting if I can find something that works. Oh by the way, what do you do with dead tubes? I cannot see myself throwing them into the refuse. I don't think that would be a good eco decision.

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Re: ET3 and LP66S

Post by admin » Tue Nov 06, 2012 10:03 pm

I concur that with a 10 month old puppy the cage should stay on! :)

I also have some minor ambient lighting on when I listen to music. I have back lighting around my movie screen which gives the room a nice glow, or sometimes I just leave the table light on that is on top of my media rack (in the back of the room). It's overall dark, but not to the point that you would trip over something or get lost in the room.

As for the dead tubes there is not much you can do. You can try listing it in the Classifieds section of CJO. I put mine in there but it did not get much interest. Some have suggested that keeping bad tubes for "diagnostic purposes" is not a bad idea. I don't think bad tubes are really worth much so there is probably a limited market for them.
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Re: ET3 and LP66S

Post by eagle6014 » Fri Jan 11, 2013 10:09 pm

Well I gave my ET3 a tune up of sorts. I noticed at the beginning of 2013 that w/o warning it got real noisy. The back ground "hiss" was getting annoying. :x Also I noticed a pop and sizzle coming from the left channel. OK, I was all about ready to send it to c-j under warranty when I saw an ad for another ET3 on A-gon for sale. The seller had indictated a similar problem was resolved when he sent his in to c-j and all they did was replace the 6922 tube. :idea: I figured I could save a bunch of money if that is all mine needed and I was right. The cost of the tube was much lower than the shipping would have been any day. I ordered a gold pin Electroharmonix tube from Music Direct. It was a perfect fit because the old tube was the exact same thing (except it didn't have gold pins). :D While I was at it, I bought a new Nordost Blue Heaven 1M power cord for it and from Audio Advisor I had a surplus of Cardas RCA caps that went onto every unused input. Plus while the cover was off I hit the inside with some canned compressed air. Some dust flew out, but surprisingly not that much. At this writing I am enjoying some Enescu: Romanian Rhapsody #1 (HDCD) and it sounds so much better. I just got that disc and I was not happy, but now I am. I also corrected the phase inversion. If you have an ET3 then you know it phase inverts and you have to correct that if the amp doesn't. I was also pleased in how easy the pre-amp came apart and the quality of the parts within. It was my first good look at it. I also received an e-mail from c-j regarding my inquiry in getting an SE upgrade. They want $2100 + s/h. I'm just not feeling it. I would rather save that money and put it towards an ET5 or GAT should that day come. Oh and my final tweak was I did a lateral move to a pair of Nordost Blue Heaven interconnects from the Adcom dac and also the SACD player I have. So they both got the upgrade there. With the exception of the Kimber AGDL digital cable I am free of their product lines. All Silver Streaks and PBJ's are gone. Not that they (Kimber) are bad products, but in the long term tests I was doing with them they were not helping my system as do the Nordost brand does. :D In conclusion I am one happy camper now. Cheers, Pat!

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Re: ET3 and LP66S

Post by eagle6014 » Sat Feb 09, 2013 4:46 pm

Just another update on what I've been doing w/ my system: Recently I added a QUANTUM BASE QV2 AC LINE HARMONIZER, another Nordost Blue Heaven power cable for my SACD player, & Black Diamond Racing LM discs to place under my ET3. By adding the harmonizer & composite feet, I feel that the pre has been further isolated. It's really helped create an extremely deep quiet back ground. At this point, short of getting a better pre, I cannot think of anything else I can do to tweak the pre. So mission accomplished in that respect. Just a few more cable upgrades & then I will start back into vinyl. I have a few LPs myself so I would like to hear them. Until then...

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Re: ET3 and LP66S

Post by eagle6014 » Sat Feb 16, 2013 9:24 am

Coming soon.... Nordost Valhalla digital cable. It's on order.

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Re: ET3 and LP66S

Post by eagle6014 » Thu Feb 28, 2013 8:11 pm

Well the Nordost Valhalla digital cable finally came in yesterday. Just like opening a Christmas present I was so excited. The family was around when I opened it and they were more impressed with the presentation box than the cable. They were also shocked when I told them what I paid for it ($1970). They think I'm nuts as it is. Anyway, it's 1M RCA/RCA. Right out of the box I could tell a difference. The bass was more defined and the overall sound was much more dynamic. It's a keeper for life. It truely is one of the best money can buy. Until the next purchase..... Pat

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Re: ET3 and LP66S

Post by admin » Fri Mar 01, 2013 9:05 am

eagle6014 wrote:Well the Nordost Valhalla digital cable finally came in yesterday. Just like opening a Christmas present I was so excited. The family was around when I opened it and they were more impressed with the presentation box than the cable. They were also shocked when I told them what I paid for it ($1970). They think I'm nuts as it is. Anyway, it's 1M RCA/RCA. Right out of the box I could tell a difference. The bass was more defined and the overall sound was much more dynamic. It's a keeper for life. It truely is one of the best money can buy. Until the next purchase..... Pat
Wow, that is some serious cable! Can you post some pictures of those? Congrats on the purchase!
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Re: ET3 and LP66S

Post by eagle6014 » Fri Mar 01, 2013 11:11 pm

You got it:
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Nordost Valhalla digital cable
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Re: ET3 and LP66S

Post by admin » Sat Mar 02, 2013 8:25 am

That is quite impressive. Damn, even the box the cable comes in screams quality. Once again, congrats on the purchase!
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Re: ET3 and LP66S

Post by wynnytsky » Thu Mar 07, 2013 6:53 pm

I was reading Pat's post about a guy who had the dirty tube and realized he was talking about me. Not only did I get the free tube installed [by non-scratching rubber tipped screw drivers], but I got a new box out of this because I pointed out that the box had a serial number printed that on it that was off by one digit.

I have the same pre+amp as Mr. Admin. After bringing home the ET3 home I felt it was not forgiving enough of the digital transport I was using. Well I recently upgraded my DAC and added a USB=>SPDIF converter in front of that, and 24/192 PCM was sounding very good. After having plugged the ET3 back in I can hear how much better it delineates all the edges of 24/192, and it does so at half the volume of the PV12. I have the ET3 volume at 20 where my PV12 would need to be between 9 and 10am (40 to 50 on the ET3) to deliver it's equivalent in detail. The PV-12 has been a clear favorite for me but this new transport is making me re-evaluate everything. A friend of mine recently got a bad case of tinnitus from his system (using a modded PV-14). I probably have a mild case of tinnitus from my low-fi years so right now I have a zero tolerance for fatigue. Low-volume detail keeps the music interesting and my ears happy.

Concerning fancy power cables I just ordered 1ft, 2ft, and 3ft versions of these 14awg cables for about $1.50 each...
http://www.monoprice.com/products/product.asp?p_id=5289
Hopefully my next home will have decent wiring and that will justify audiophile power cables.

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Re: ET3 and LP66S

Post by admin » Sun Mar 10, 2013 3:25 pm

wynnytsky wrote:I was reading Pat's post about a guy who had the dirty tube and realized he was talking about me. Not only did I get the free tube installed [by non-scratching rubber tipped screw drivers], but I got a new box out of this because I pointed out that the box had a serial number printed that on it that was off by one digit.

I have the same pre+amp as Mr. Admin. After bringing home the ET3 home I felt it was not forgiving enough of the digital transport I was using. Well I recently upgraded my DAC and added a USB=>SPDIF converter in front of that, and 24/192 PCM was sounding very good. After having plugged the ET3 back in I can hear how much better it delineates all the edges of 24/192, and it does so at half the volume of the PV12. I have the ET3 volume at 20 where my PV12 would need to be between 9 and 10am (40 to 50 on the ET3) to deliver it's equivalent in detail. The PV-12 has been a clear favorite for me but this new transport is making me re-evaluate everything. A friend of mine recently got a bad case of tinnitus from his system (using a modded PV-14). I probably have a mild case of tinnitus from my low-fi years so right now I have a zero tolerance for fatigue. Low-volume detail keeps the music interesting and my ears happy.

Concerning fancy power cables I just ordered 1ft, 2ft, and 3ft versions of these 14awg cables for about $1.50 each...
http://www.monoprice.com/products/product.asp?p_id=5289
Hopefully my next home will have decent wiring and that will justify audiophile power cables.
Glad to hear your enjoying the ET3!

As for power cables, I have ordered from monoprice in the past, actually pretty good quality and an unbeatable price. I have compared them to my $100 Shunyata Research Inc. Powersnake cables and I can't hear any difference. I will warn against getting the monoprice premium RCA cables, however, when I switched those out to an audiophile grade RCA cable, there was a massive improvement over the monoprice's.
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Re: ET3 and LP66S

Post by eagle6014 » Sun Mar 10, 2013 8:05 pm

Yeah I'm done with power cables for now. I need to take advantage of my CD players USB capabilities. So I need a type A to type B USB cable about 10' long. Then I need to start looking at what music to download. I have a CD collection 500 strong so I won't get anything I already have. This will be my next project over the next few weeks. Last week I had another pr of used Nordost Red Dawn flat line cables come in that I bought on eBay. I paid $225 for them so I think it was a good buy. While I was doing that, I took every single component off my rack, cleaned everything, and put them all back in. I also routed all cables in such a way to minimize cross talk. Nordosts older flat lines can do that, but it's easy to manage if you give it some thought. Pat

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Re: ET3 and LP66S

Post by wynnytsky » Mon Mar 11, 2013 12:56 am

That USB cable should be about $5 with shipping...
http://www.monoprice.com/products/product.asp?p_id=5439
That's awesome that you can use that Marantz as a USB DAC. The TubeDAC-11 was my first DAC and it has the same Cirrus Logic CS4398 chip -- fantastic for a $350 DAC. I had no idea the chip supported DSD as well. That means you should be able to playback native DFF and DSF files w/o the need to install the foo_input_sacd.dll component that coverts to PCM on the fly. I'm curious if the Marantz will accept 24/192 through it's USB port. My TubeDAC-11 couldn't.

My favorite interconnects are the "Blue Jeans Cable LC-1". They have Taversoe heads on them that grab just hard enough that they can be inserted and removed w/o twisting. About 15 years ago I got monster cables that have a grip so hard that I damaged several units pushing them into position. I have some monoprice interconnects with the same monster grip. No thank you.

People will argue that value of wiring, but there is one upgrade that you can't argue with, and it's free. Get your measuring tape out and ensure you established an equilateral triangle with you speakers, then experiment with toe in, and possibly shrinking the triangle in order to move the speakers off the back wall and away from corners.

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